racial equity
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau

What does this measure?

The unemployment rate for racial and ethnic groups in a geographic area. Unemployed individuals are those without jobs who are able, available and seeking work; the rate presents them as a share of the total labor force.

Why is this important?

Unemployment rates are a relatively timely indicator of current local economic conditions, particularly recent changes in the employment landscape that reflect the overall health of the economy.

How is Norfolk County doing?

In 2017-21, 9% of African American residents in Norfolk County were unemployed, compared to 4% of Asian and white residents. This is in line with disparities observed at the statewide and national level. Norfolk County's rate among African American residents was higher than Middlesex (7%) while its rate among Hispanic residents (6%) was lower than Essex County (9%) and similar to Middlesex (7%).

Since 2000, the Norfolk County's unemployment rate increased 3 percentage points among African American workers and 2 percentage points among Hispanic workers.

Sample sizes for workers of each race/ethnicity in Brookline and comparison municipalities were too small to report reliably.

Why do these disparities exist?

While traditional explanations for employment rate disparities focus on education and training gaps, whites tend to be employed at higher rates than Blacks and other people of color at every education level (high school, some college, bachelor's degree, etc.). This has led many researchers to focus on labor market discrimination as a primary cause of higher unemployment among people of color. However, it is also true that education levels are generally lower for people of color, suggesting that the education system's failure to equitably serve people of color is also a contributing factor.

Notes about the data

The multi-year figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.

Data on unemployment by race and ethnicity is only available from the American Community Survey, and it is somewhat different from the total population unemployment data produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics using responses to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Two different survey methodologies are used (ACS responses are collected by mail, phone and in person; CPS uses phone and in-person interviews), CPS questions on employment are more detailed, and CPS requires that someone be "actively" searching for work (interviewing, calling contacts) in order to qualify as unemployed. In addition, the ACS estimates used here cover a 5-year period, compared to an annual average of monthly estimates presented in the general unemployment indicator. Data for this indicator are expected to be released in the fourth quarter.

snapshot_single
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity, 2017-21
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Brookline3.5%***4.2%***6.2%***3.4%*
Arlington, Middlesex County4.0%***2.3%***2.0%***4.3%*
Cambridge, Middlesex County3.4%**9.5%**7.8%***2.8%*
Everett, Middlesex County3.4%***3.7%***9.6%**5.1%**
Newton, Middlesex County2.1%***8.0%***5.1%***3.6%*
Norfolk County4.4%9.2%6.2%*4.5%
Essex County2.7%*4.1%*9.4%4.6%
Middlesex County4.1%6.8%7.2%4.1%
Massachusetts4.5%8.4%8.9%4.7%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number Unemployed by Race/Ethnicity, 2017-21
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Brookline221***27***160***924*
Arlington, Middlesex County152***19***28***905*
Cambridge, Middlesex County461**576**451***1,296*
Everett, Middlesex County78***154***770**680**
Newton, Middlesex County148***116***99***1,288*
Norfolk County2,1502,7741,262*13,831
Essex County435*785*8,69215,718
Middlesex County4,9153,2595,17528,771
Massachusetts12,16123,37638,532137,025

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.






INDICATORS
Change in Total Population
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity
Language Diversity
Foreign-Born Population
Population by Age
People with Disabilities
Voter Registration
Voter Participation
Arrest Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Change in Total Jobs
Unemployment Rate
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Living Wage
Median Household Income
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity
Income in Relation to Poverty Level
People Living in Poverty
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
People Living in Poverty by Age
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
Females Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
Seniors Living in Poverty
Share of Workers who are Professionals by Race/Ethnicity
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity
Access to Financial Services by Race/Ethnicity
Student Performance on Grade 3 English by Student Subgroup
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity
Overall Housing Cost Burden
Median Home Value
Median Home Value by Race/Ethnicity
Cost of Homeownership
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity
Cost of Renting
Cost of Rent by Race/Ethnicity
Households Receiving SNAP
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity
Food Insecurity
Households Without Vehicles
Means of Transportation to Work by Race/Ethnicity
Protected Land
Percent of Days with Good Air Quality
Early Prenatal Care
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity
Drug Poisoning Mortality Rate
Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions
People 65 or Older Living Alone
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity
Arrest Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
Females Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity
Share of Workers who are Professionals by Race/Ethnicity
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity
Student Performance on Grade 3 English by Student Subgroup
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity
Median Home Value by Race/Ethnicity
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity
Cost of Rent by Race/Ethnicity
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity



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